Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Serpent Man

In Robert Crumbs The Book of Genesis Illustrated, Crumb depicts the “sacred” text in often unusual ways. One such example is his depiction of the serpent as a man. In chapter 3, Crumb’s serpent is more of a lizard man than completely serpent or completely man. This has important implications on not only the specific scene, but the entire work as a whole.
            As previously mentioned, Crumb’s serpent is a lizard man. It has all the appendages of a human, but retains a tail and reptilian head. Not until the serpent misleads Eve is the creature “cursed” to “crawl” along the dirt, inferior to other beasts. It is only after being cursed that the serpent takes the popularly accepted snake-like form.
            Commonly, the serpent acts as an outside force of evil. It is viewed as a creation of God that misleads. In consulting other parts of the bible, it becomes clear that the serpent is an early representation or incarnation of Satan (“KJV: Revelation 20:2”). Thus, the serpent is an outside force of evil, misleading Adam and Eve. Crumb’s depiction of the serpent as part human presents this source of evil as closer to Adam and Eve. Crumb’s depiction hints that perhaps this evil or trickery is an internal drive. It is part of the human condition. It is not Satan, an outside force of evil, but a darkness that lurks within.
            This idea that evil comes not from without but from within has a profound impact on the work as a whole. It has multiple implications on life, the divinity of God, and speaks to Crumb’s greater life philosophy as whole. For life, it points to certain pessimism. If evil comes from within, then repressing evil becomes a matter of repressing human nature, a more difficult task than resisting outside temptation. One can be isolated from the external, but the internal is inherently omnipresent. For God’s divinity, if man is a creation of God, then that evil was purposefully there, so how can God punish man for that which is in his nature? Is the punisher then truly divine and righteous? This question is better suited to deeper religious knowledge. Lastly, Crumb’s illustration of evil points at a greater pessimism towards mankind, similar to the implication on life. Crumb sees mankind not as a force of good, but something that is evil.

***All of these ideas can be explored at greater lengths and I look forward to doing so in the future.

"KJV: Revelation 20:2." Revelation 20:2. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.

Crumb, R., and Robert Alter. The Book of Genesis Illustrated. London: Jonathan Cape, 2009. Print.


  1. I have to say that you have a very good start point---the serpent man. And you said Crumb is a lizard man. It is interesting you consider more about Crumb than his book. You start a point for this man and connected to his book. I think if you explore more example and evidence to prove your idea, it should be a nice essay.

  2. This is reasonable and even interesting, but also minimalistic (at best) and simplistic. As a starting point of a deeper analysis of where Crumb locates evil, vs. where the "orthodox" readings of the biblical text locate it, it has some merit. I would also suggest that Crumb emphasizes collective/political evil in many cases (see the "corruption" of humanity before the flood), which seems like a possible counterpoint to your developing argument.